Tougher smoking rules rejected
Calls for penalties to punish people for puffing away in public outdoor places have been narrowly defeated by the Palmerston North City Council.
One year into implementing its smokefree outdoor areas policy in the central city, the community development committee heard that education and encouragement were starting to cut through the smoke.
But Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell told yesterday's committee meeting that a soft approach was not going to achieve the goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.
"It's time to move to the next step," he said.
He wanted the council to lobby the incoming government to provide some teeth to back up local bylaws banning smoking in public and to make the goal of a safe and healthy city a reality.
"There is no point waiting until 2020 to do something like this."
But mayor Jono Naylor, who is campaigning for National in the hope of being a member of the next government, said he would not favour a bylaw with infringement notices.
"We would be requiring the police to do that.
"It is one thing to put a parking ticket under a windscreen wiper, quite another handing something like that over in person. It feels a bit over the top."
Cr Tangi Utikere said he supported all efforts to encourage people to go smokefree, and there were still gains to be made through collaborating and communicating without criminalising smoking, he said. Cr Lew Findlay said the council should not wait to act, but should put a stake in the ground now about smoking and say "no more".
Cr Adrian Broad voted against seeking to introduce penalties.
The partnership approach encouraging businesses to reduce smoking outside their premises was making significant inroads, he said, and he was happy to let it continue.
Teo-Sherrell said he was "quite shocked" by that attitude from a MidCentral District Health Board member.
The councillors who supported Teo-Sherrell's harder line were Rachel Bowen, Lew Findlay, Duncan McCann, Billy Meehan, Annette Nixon and Grant Smith, while eight opposed it.
The committee has, however, recommended a review of its year-old policy.
Nixon said the council should be working to maintain the momentum of smokefree efforts, considering whether to extend the public areas that were covered, and working out a sensible budget to include in next year's review of the Long Term Plan.
Cr Susan Baty said she would like to see the smokefree policy rolled out to suburban shopping centres.
It should also include clear goals and targets so progress could be measured, she said. That initiative was supported by 10 votes to four.
Coffee on the Terrace owner Nick Sykes said he would be happy to consider the idea of a smokefree area at Terrace End.
More people tended to sit outside the cafe if it was a nice day, rather than to have a smoke. "It's not really a biggie. I've just never been able to get my head around how people set fire to money."